Wallflower Most Wanted by Manda Collins
Miss Sophia Hastings is a rare young lady, one with genuine artistic talent. Her art isn’t just flattering portraits or pretty flowers; she paints what she feels, sometimes controversial, always thought-provoking. She has little interest in finding a husband, despite a plethora of suitors, until the day she literally falls off a cliff and lands at the feet of the handsome local vicar. Even then, she might not have taken too much notice, except for the conversation the pair then overhear… two men plotting the murder of another artist.
Drawn into intrigue by what they have overheard, and by the information that a forger in the area is producing replicas of famous works and passing them off as the real thing to sell to the upwardly mobile middle class, Sophia and Benedick discover a mutual attraction even as their investigation heats up.
I really believed in Sophia and Benedick’s romance, and there were just enough twists and turns in the plot to keep me guessing. I’d have liked to see a little more of Sophia actually being active with her art - the only time she actually painted was in the very first chapter of the book, and my experience of artists is that, like writers, they can’t just ‘switch off’. Generally they’re always sketching in a notebook or stopping to gaze at a scene the rest of us mortals would find entirely unremarkable, but in which the artist can discern something special.
I enjoyed the read, but the issue that we’d been constantly ‘told’ Sophia was an artist but not really ‘shown’ her being one kept niggling at me for a couple of days after finishing the book. For this reason, I can’t quite bring myself to give it five stars, yet it’s definitely better than a four. Four and a half, and I’ll round up to five for Amazon and Goodreads.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.